CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia is in the middle of one of its worst flu seasons in years, and health officials say time is running out to get vaccinated.
Brandon Merritt, regional epidemiologist at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said cases of "influenza-like illness" and confirmed flu cases have steadily increased since the first week of December.
"Every week there's been significant jumps in the number of confirmed positives. We've seen steady increases in confirmed cases from across the county and across the state for five consecutive weeks," he said.
West Virginia is among 31 states nationwide reporting "widespread" flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Since the beginning of December, "there has been increasing influenza activity in more parts of the United States and more cases of flu," said Joe Bresee, chief of epidemiology at CDC's influenza division, in an interview last week with The Washington Post.
"We have seen increasing trends that flu is increasing in the last few weeks of the year, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see that continue into the new year."
Influenza often peaks in January, February or even later.
There were 10,676 confirmed flu cases in West Virginia as of Dec. 18, according to the latest-available data from the state Department of Health and Human Resources. There were only 6,658 cases in all of December 2011. In December 2010, there were only 6,245 confirmed flu cases.